Design or Text-Only Email Newsletters?

While having a gorgeously designed email template gives eye appeal, the harsh reality is that trying to implement a visually stunning email newsletter often causes more problems than its worth for new coaches starting a business.

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Here are five common problems with designed newsletters:

1. Accessibility is poorer.

When you send a designed email, it requires coding to properly position the graphics.

The email program that people use to read email (Gmail, Outlook, Hotmail, etc.) needs to interpret that code to make the graphics show as intended.

Since there are a wide range of email programs (again, Gmail, Outlook, Hotmail, etc.)  out there and a wide range of browsers (Internet Explorer, Safari, Firefox, Chrome, etc.) that these programs run on and a range of machines and devices to consider (PCs, Macs, Iphones, etc.), the interpretation of the code is almost never consistent.

Thus, graphical newsletters end up looking like a mess.

People avoid messes.

2. It takes a lot of time.

A newsletter is traditionally seen as a small pamphlet containing many different writing pieces: welcome letter, article, tips, events, news, etc. It’s quite a beefy publishing to make.

This can be very time consuming for a new coach who may not be the best writer, may not have a lot of time to compile all of those elements.

Even on a monthly basis, many coaches have struggled to be consistent.

3. Costs are higher.

Designing a visual layout for your newsletter can take a lot of time to create. Or it can cost you money to hire a designer.

Even the designer might not be testing out that design on every browser, device, and email program out there to ensure a consistent display.

4. You’ll get blocked more.

Email filters review each piece of incoming email to determine if it’s junk or not. The filters look at the words used in the message.

In an attempt to avoid those filters, S.P.A.Mers will embed the words of their offending message into an image.

Thus, emails with images tend to get blocked more by filters.

Just think, how many emails do you send in a day that have images in them? Almost none. People use email primarily for sending text.

When you send a designed email, you are sending images and are at a higher risk of getting blocked by email programs.

Incidentally, you’re also sending code with those images, another common flag that can get your email message blocked.

5. Images are frequently turned off anyhow.

To move information faster, to preserve bandwidth, and to save on space, the often defaulted setting for many email programs is to NOT show images.

This makes sense because most email is simply text based. Think about emails you send to friends and colleagues.

Also, for people who have slow internet speeds, they often browse the web with images turned off.

These could be people in hills or mountains where high-speed data lines aren’t available. Or, they could be people using PDAs that don’t come with high speed access.

As internet access reaches more areas of the world on more kinds of devices the speeds will, at first, be slow.

I suggest starting out simply with blogging.

Just to clarify, when you blog, you don’t have to write about your Smurf collection or how you like Goji berries in your oatmeal.

A blog doesn’t have to be that personal and in your case, as a new coach growing his or her business, you shouldn’t.

Instead, focus your blog content on serving your market. Simply send out a helpful article to your email list on a weekly basis. This will ensure that your subscribers are more than happy.

When you blog, simply send a copy of that blog article to your email list as a text (as opposed to a designed newsletter).

If you do want a graphically enhanced newsletter …

If you do create a visual for your email newsletter, keep it ultra simple and just have a header followed by body text.

Keep the layout to a one column layout with your welcome message first, then main article, followed by promotional content, and then contact information at the end.

In summary, for new coaches with limited resources, go for a text-only newsletter (or blog article that you send to your list). You’ll avoid a lot of red-tape in your efforts to market to your list subscribers.

3 Responses to Design or Text-Only Email Newsletters?

  1. Karen December 20, 2011 at 5:23 pm #

    what do you think about attaching a pdf?

  2. Kenn, Coaching Site Specialist December 20, 2011 at 6:12 pm #

    Hi Karen.

    Good question.

    I’d not do that because attachments are more likely to get blocked by filters, slower to download, or not show on other devices (think droid, etc).

    Plus it makes one more step for someone to do. Believe it or not, people struggle even with finding attachments or realizing there is one.

    Straight, solid, unadulterated text is a great move.

    Kenn

    • Karen December 30, 2011 at 6:10 pm #

      Thanks. I appreciate the great advice.

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